Border Violence Monitoring Network - Report July 2019
The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published a common report summarizing current developments in pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and along the Serbian borders with Croatia and Hungary.
Due tu a new cooperation with the Thessaloniki-based organisation Mobile Info Team, we were also able to touch on the Status quo of pushbacks from and to Greece.
This report analyzes, among other things:
– BiH politicians’ rhetoric on Croatian push-backs
– Whistleblowers increasing pressure on Croatian authorities
– Frontex presence in Hungarian push-backs to Serbia
– The use of k9 units in the apprehension of transit groups in Slovenia
– The spatial dispersion of push-backs in the Una-Sana Canton
Competing narratives around the legality of pushbacks have emerged, muddying the waters. This has become especially clear as Croatian president Grabar-Kitarovic admitted that pushbacks were carried out legally, which is contradictory to begin with, and that “of course […] a little violence is used.” Croatia’s tactic of de facto condoning illegal pushbacks is similar to Hungary’s strategy to legalize these operations domestically, even though they violate international and EU law. On the other side of the debate, a whistleblower from the Croatian police described a culture of secrecy and institutional hurdles, which prevent legal and organizational challenges to the practice. The role of the EU in this debate remains critical. However, despite paying lip service to the EU’s value, Brussels’ continues to shoulder the bill for a substantial part of the frontier states’ border operations.